Just An Excuse

The eighth millionaire pacer to win the New Zealand Cup, Just An Excuse (“Lordie”) was a winner on both sides of the Tasman. One of just fourteen horses to have twice won NZ’s most prestigious race for pacers (2003, 2004) while placing third in the 2005 edition. The three, three time winners are all inductees of the Addington Harness Hall Of Fame – namely Indianapolis, False Step and Terror To Love.

Just An Excuse sired by first season Die Laughing stallion, Live Or Die (1:51.4US) was the sixth foal from the race winning mare My Excuse (Smooth Fella/Good Excuse), 2:03.7, bred by John Curtin and Sandy Yarndley. This is the NZ family of Millie C which has left four NZ Cup winners to date – being Marlene, Thunder, Just An Excuse twice.

My Excuse the dam of eight winners (third dam of Bettor Enforce 1:48.9) for breeders Ollie and Irene Haines – two winners bred in conjunction with Ricky and Janet Larsen. Owner-breeder Ollie Haines once described My Excuse as a “bl…y nutter”. Haines, an administrator, owner, breeder also a steward, committee member, vice President and President for three years at Cambridge Raceway and part of the Harness Racing New Zealand Executive for nearly a decade. The Haines had previously raced classy filly Smooth Performer winner of NZ/Waikato Oaks, Nevele R Fillies and Ladyship Stakes.

Key facts concerning Just An Excuse’s career: Just An Excuse was trained throughout his career by Robert Mitchell at Raglan and driven in all his races by his son Todd “The Wizard” Mitchell. With a club foot as a weanling attempts to sell him were unsuccessful so the Haines decided to race him. Beginning as a three year old he was unbeaten in three starts (2001/2002) winning his debut at Cambridge by nine lengths and two further successes at Alexandra Park : 3 : 3-0-0, $10,200, 1:58.1 (1700mM).

As a four year old (2002/3), his record read 10 : 7-2-1, $197,597, 1:55.6, career best mile rate in Taylor Mile. Unbeaten until his seventh career start when second in the Kumeu Stakes. His wins were recorded at Alexandra Park (four including Messenger, Taylor Mile), Addington (one, Superstars Championship in race record time, 3:15.1, 2600m stand off 20m) and Cambridge (two including Te Awamutu Cup). Major placings included seconds in Kumeu Stakes and Cambridge Elliott Futurity.

At five Just An Excuse continued his successful career with NZ seasonal stats (2003/4) of 6 : 2-1-3, $274,222, 4:05.7/2:03.5 (3200m stand, NZ Cup). Wins included his first New Zealand Cup, the one hundredth running, Centennial NZ Cup at Addington when starting favourite and the Spring Cup at Alexandra Park. Among his placings were a second in Elsu’s Auckland Cup and thirds in North Shore City Stakes and Ashburton Flying Stakes. His Australian season consisted of three starts with a seventh in the 2003 Miracle Mile, win in Group Three 2004 Ballarat Cup and twelfth in the Hunter Cup; 3 : 1-0-0, $63,500, 2:02.5AUS.

As a six year old (2004/5) his seasonal stats in NZ were 9 : 4-0-3, $409,079, 1:56.5 (2000mM). Early in the season he won the North Shore City Stakes at Alexandra Park while his second Auckland success came in an ID Pacers heat during the 2005 ID carnival. Running third in the two remaining heats before placing third to Elsu in the Pacing Grand Final. His dual Addington victories included his second NZ Cup off 10m in 4:01.2/2:01.2 (3200m stand) when third favourite off a limited, injury plagued campaign and victory in the NZFFA in a seasons best mile rate of 1:56.5. This gave Just An Excuse the converted NZ Cup/FFA double and together with his earlier Cup Trial he had recorded three good runs in the space of nine days. After the NZ Cup carnival, just An Excuse had his lone seasonal start in Australia finishing third to Sokyola in the Victoria Cup; 1 : 0-0-1, $27,500.

As a seven year old In his final season, Just An Excuse was a non-winner but recorded four placings from his seven starts; 7 : 0-1-3, $52,340. Placed second in the Spring Cup with thirds in North Shore Stakes, Addington double of NZ Cup behind Mainland Banner when attempting a third consecutive victory and to Howard Bromac in NZFFA while finishing fourth in the Ashburton Flying Stakes and seventh in his last race at Alexandra Park in the Summer Cup. Combined Australasian career stats showed 39 starts, 17-4-11, $1,035,068, 1:55.6NZ. Just An Excuse’s retirement came to a premature end when he suffered a paddock injury breaking his leg and being put down in June 2008.

September 2022